ACTIV-ES: a novel Spanish-language corpus for linguistic and cultural comparisons between communities of the Hispanic world

This electronic resource will be the first to compile the language of common, everyday life for three linguistically, culturally, and geographically distinct communities— Spain, Mexico, and Argentina. It will provide scholars, instructors, students, and other interested parties with a unique perspective, enabling for the first time a rich cross-linguistic and cross-cultural analysis of current patterns and themes in the Hispanic world.

ACTIV-ES is innovative in design and evaluation. Its design will: 1) distinguish 3 varieties of Spanish language, 2) semi-automatically cull language from (in)formal registers via the internet, and 3) be indexed with popularity ratings from social websites, enabling fine-grained and dynamic linguistic/cultural analyses of commonly-used language. Evaluation techniques developed in the field of psychology will gauge a speaker’s exposure to certain linguistic forms to provide ecological validation.

Significance to humanistic research

First, ACTIV-ES will yield data on macrolevel linguistic and cultural trends in the Hispanic world that cannot be gained through individual introspection. Second, it will enable users to identify linguistic and cultural continuities and discontinuities among diverse communities. Third, it will provide fresh, fact-based insights into shifting cultural developments now and into the future. Finally, it will provide a model for investigating cultures through variation in language use.

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